AUSTRALIAN MEDIA DOES A RUNNER!
simply cannot believe its that time again. Seems like only weeks
ago when I was doing my yearly Xmas blurb on this website. I
always miss being at home in Ireland at this time of the year.
Not just because of family, but also because of the media.
I grew up with the BBC, RTE and ITV. At Christmas all
those timeless Christmas movies would come on. The BBC was briliant
at Christmas (don't know if they still are!)- especially if
you were a child. Here in Australia, things are very different
You see, television's ratings soar at this time
of year in the UK. It's cold - people are indoors, and the TV
stations make an effort to disseminate a Christmnas "feel"
to their audiences. Not so here! As you know we are in Summertime,
and everyone is outdoors at Xmas. Also, we are entering what
we call the "silly season". Absolutely NOTHING
gets done between late December and February in Australia. And
that applies to the media also. The Australian media works on
an American system - the ratings system. Because of low viewership
in the Summertime, the ratings system finishes. Result: The
worst quality TV of the year.
a guy here called Ray Martin. He is, well, the "Terry Wogan"
of Australia. He does "Carols by Candlelight" a three
hour "live" TV show which gets aired on The Nine Network.
It is broadcast outside on a hot sweltering Xmas Eve, to an
audience of thousands in a Melbourne Park, and to millions around
Australia on TV. Choirs sing, kids get up and recite Christmas
messages and the whole affair is shall we say, 'atmospheric".
Other than this event, Australian TV is all but baron of "the
Christmas feel". And I think it's kinda sad - especially
for the kids. Instead we have poor quality programming and bland
TV commercials for the January sales. I guess we shouldn't complain
- we have the great weather and it is our summer, but I miss
the ol' BBC at Xmas time. Call me sentimental!
The only other big event around Xmas time are the fireworks
on New Year's Eve, with fireworks exploding over the Sydney
Harbour Bridge at midnight. That gets televised "live",
and is quite something to behold.
So it's the end of 2004 and Irishpirates.com
is in it's third year. Paul Buckle owns this website - I merely
look after it for him. He actually started a website with lots
of old jingles from the pirate stations of the eighties about
6 years ago. I asked him if I could take over and add more audio
and a regular commentary, and he graciously let me do that.
Thanks Paul and Happy Xmas to you and your family!
A personal message from
me...and a little story!
(This might bore you to death, but just in case
it doesn't, I'll do it anyway!)
talking about the media, I am truly getting away from it after
Xmas day. I am driving to a remote peninsula on the Australian
Victorian coast, then hopping onto a small fishing boat. The
place is accessible only by boat. It's called the "Barrier"
and the last time I was there two years ago, a very dangerous
"brown" snake tried to get into the house!
The temperatures reach into the 40's. A friend of mine has a
house there. There's no toilet to speak of, no electricity or
running water. Just a lake on one side of the peninsula, and
the sea on the other. It is very beautiful, and very raw. The
building we're in is very old by Australian standards - late
1800's. This peninsula is deserted most of the year round. Friends
of mine have family summer houses there. The reason it is mostly
deserted is because, with rising sea-levels, the peninsula will
eventually be submerged by water - at a guess - in about 40
years time. We will be spending New Years Eve on this remote
landscape with about 15 other young (er) people. No need for
media here. Just lots of folks cooking fish over open fires,
telling stories, and enjoying the "odd" drink
(wink wink, nod nod!). We have to actually catch fish to eat!
I am a keen home-brewer, so will bring some of my best home-brewed
beer for the week we're down there. I can't wait. At the stroke
of midnight on New Years Eve, there will be no fireworks for
us. We'll be running around like lunatics in one of the most
remote peninsulas in the southern hemisphere! Possibly jumping
into the lake to cool off!
will be fantastic and therapeutic to get away from my network,
the radio, TV and all the "stuff" that surrounds our
lives circa the new millennium.
Australia can be quite
a dangerous place. The "brown" snake
is one of the most deadly of all, and one tried to get into
our house the last time I was down there. Now the next bit is
kinda raw to explain. We had to pee into the bush where the
snake was, to ward him off. The snakes don't like that! It's
like, well, a territorial ownership thing. Can you imagine how
nervous I was going to the toilet at all????? A brown snake's
bite is so venimous, that it can kill you if you don't get help
quickly. We were in the middle of nowhere! That photo on your
left is when myself and Benny caught the fish on the first day.
I'm the one on the right by the way. We later caught much larger
fish (really! They were THIS LARGE!!!) but the batteries on
the digital camera ran out and we had no electricity. (Yeah
Henry, likely story!). No really! We also went in search for
muscles and oysters (boy the oysters were huge!) to be found
in the lake. Ben also forced me to ride on a surf board dragged
by the motorised boat across the lake! It nearly killed me.
THINKING ABOUT THE
YEAR THAT WAS...
you have seven days in a remote place, with no media around
you, you get to think a little more than usual. You have all
the time in the world, the natural habitat (albeit sometimes
dangerous!) and hot, hot weather. Your only requirement is water
and food. We can get these things from the mainland, but its
much more fun fighting nature for them, and hell, it's easier
most of the time, in terms of travelling. Water is a huge problem
in Australia in the sense that we don't have enough of it. When
we're on the barrier, we are constantly fighting the dwindling
supplies. Simple activities like washing dishes is a big deal.
As for washing ourselves, it's a matter of jumping in the lake!
Serously! But water is not the only thing on our minds.
We talk of the state of the world, not in a hippy kind of way,
but much more seriously. Things look so much clearer from afar.
The people we stay with are in their twenties and thirties.
I am in my early fourties. I find it most gratifying that younger
people actually give a shit about whats going on in the world.
And they do. Let's hope they don't go into a comfortable numbness
when they start buying houses and having babies.
I will think about the year that has passed. Ireland's Phantom
FM achieved it's long-awaited application approval for a broadcasting
licence for Dublin. I am so pleased for them. They have worked
so hard for it, and I am sooo greatful to have been allowed
to do spots on their radio shows.
Gary Hamill (AKA Sean McCarthy, ex of irelandlivetelevision.tv)
has moved back to New York. We wish him the very best in all
his endeavours there. Bob Gallico is moving home to the USA
after many decades living in Ireland. Bob was a great mentor
to me as a young newsreader on Nova twenty years ago. Bob, lets
keep in touch! The world is now a small place!
I'll be thinking about the direction our world is going in,
with elections in the US and Australia in 2004 resulting in
a continuous and dangerous swing to the right end of politics.
I will lament and pray that the all-ignored environment survives
this global trend towards greed and domination.
2004 has been a real rocker for technology. The advancement
of modern communication devices - camera phones - digital radio
- blogs - and numerous other ways of communicating. This can
never be wrong - as long as people keep communicating!
In July 2004 a veteran broadcaster and possibly one of the most
skilled communicators I have ever met, died from throat cancer.
Tony Allan was one crazy man. I'll be thinking about Tony, and
what mischief he is up to now that the skies the limit!
And as I sit on the beach in the middle of nowhere, chances
are I'll be thinking of where I'm getting my next meal. 'cos
sometimes those fucking fish refuse to bite!
Back to Radio Home